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Direct discrimination

Direct discrimination

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DISCRIMINATION can take many different forms. Amongst other things, discrimination can be direct, indirect, intersectional, intentional, unintentional, based on association with a person to whom a prohibited ground applies, and based on the perception of a person having a characteristic associated with a prohibited ground.

In today’s article, we will be briefly looking at the concept of direct discrimination.

According to article 5 of the Declaration of Principles on Equality: “Discrimination must be prohibited where it is on grounds of race, colour, ethnicity, descent, sex, pregnancy, maternity, civil, family or carer status, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, birth, national or social origin, nationality, economic status, association with a national minority, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, health status, genetic or other predisposition toward illness or a combination of any of these grounds, or on the basis of characteristics associated with any of these grounds”.

Article 5 of the Declaration of Principles on Equality goes on to define direct discrimination, and it states that: “Direct discrimination occurs when for a reason related to one or more prohibited grounds a person or group of persons is treated less favourably than another person or another group of persons is, has been, or would be treated in a comparable situation; or when for a reason related to one or more prohibited grounds a person or group of persons is subjected to a detriment. Direct discrimination may be permitted only very exceptionally, when it can be justified against strictly defined criteria”.

One example of direct discrimination is if an employer makes a pregnant female employee redundant because of her pregnancy. The second example of direct discrimination is if a law explicitly bans gay people from joining the military. A third example of direct discrimination is if a job advertisement unjustly states that black people should not apply because the company doesn’t want any black people working for them.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines (“SVG”), the right to non-discrimination is exposited under section 13 of SVG’s Constitution titled “Protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, etc”.

Amongst other things, in my last article, we defined discrimination, learnt about the different grounds upon which discrimination is prohibited, and who is prohibited from discriminating against others in the context of SVG’s Constitution.

In a nutshell, section 13 of SVG’s Constitution explicitly prohibits the State and public authorities from discriminating against persons on certain expressed grounds.

Direct discrimination can also be found under section 13 (1) of SVG’s Constitution. Section 13 (1) of SVG’s Constitution states that: “Subject to the provisions of subsections (4), (5) and (7) of this section, no law shall make any provision that is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect”. Direct discrimination can be identified under the words “any provision that is discriminatory…of itself”.

For instance, if the State creates a law that says all persons who are Muslim should be killed, that law would be discriminatory of itself. This law would discriminate against Muslims under the ground of creed, which is an expressed ground upon which discrimination from the State is prohibited by virtue of SVG’s Constitution.

Today, I encourage us to continue to learn about the different forms of discrimination and in particular direct discrimination. Let us work together to end all forms of discrimination in SVG, especially against vulnerable groups in Vincentian society.

Author: Jeshua Bardoo is a Vincentian Barrister- at-law and Solicitor. He is the President of Equal Rights,Access and Opportunities SVG Inc. He also has an LLM in International Human Rights Law. He can be contacted via email at [email protected]

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